Saturday, September 29, 2007

Peter Balakian: Parts of Peonies

Click here to hear Peter Balakian's Parts of Peonies read by Lola Koundakjian.

It rained so much in June
some grew to look like stuffed cabbage
or the small heads of lambs.

Even the stigmas were buried
under dense white and red.

All day I tried to put
my hands into their swollen insides.
I thought my touch would reawaken...

In the slightest breeze
they swooned
and things fell into them

(as if their nectar glands
were a substance in my mind
like the seed an ovule becomes):

the spongy sac inside a goat,
almond-shaped eyes
quills of porcupine
fragments of eucalyptus
on the Armenian steppe --

and here in my small upstate garden
a man's pancreas and a nest
are the same --

if they are butchered out
a bird can only drop
her eggs into empty space.

When I close my eyes
in the harsh light
I see only black spots...

the peonies go on and on

This poem has appeared in the volume "Reply from Wilderness Island", Sheep Meadow Press, 1988, and is used here by kind permission.

No comments: